Friday 21 February 2014

Lloyds Conveyancing Panel Portal Providers Hit Back at the Law Society

The relationship between Decision First and the Law Society is becoming increasingly strained as the adoption of the Lender Exchange by lenders such as Lloyds undermines the value of CQS. 

The Lender Exchange is a web portal which aims to address the issue of multiple lenders seeking similar information from solicitors in order to better manage their panel systems. The aim is to reduce costs and the administrative burden on solicitor firms, while also helping the lenders minimise fraud and negligence through due diligence. The Lloyds Conveyancing Panel will have to use the system. CQS will clearly no longer be the only game in town. 

The Law Society maintain that important issue is the level of detail of the information sought by lenders. At present, some lenders require a minimal verification of ID prior to granting membership of their solicitor panel. Others require detailed information including criminal record checks. The Law Society have also expressed concerns about the role that Decision First will have as a ‘gatekeeper.’  

The PR machines are kicking  into gear. Speaking to Legal Futures, Decision First’s managing director, Justin Parkinson, said he had written to Mr Hudson offering to share the proposed terms and conditions “in a consultative manner” as long as discussions were kept confidential. He said he had been talking to the Law Society “for over 12 months” about the scheme. “My frustration is that that seems to be ignored by the Law Society and they pick and choose what information to pass out to their members.”

In an attempt to alleviate concerns over a private business running the exchange Parkinson pointed out that Decision First had won the contract in open competition, in which the Law Society also participated. In a comment that brings into question the value of CQS he argued that the status quo was “untenable”. He explained: “If nothing was to happen, then I could guarantee that lenders would take their own course of action and every law firm in the country would be effectively penalised as a result”.

A Law Society spokesman said: “The Law Society continues to have reservations about Lender Exchange and the impact it could have on members. We offered to provide a service free to lenders and that offer still stands. We are organising a meeting with Decision First to go through their terms and conditions and assess what ramifications they could have for our members.”

The new Lloyds conveyancing panel portal is expected to go live by the end of March.

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